|MONDAY 13 MARCH 2017||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The government has announced that it accepts in full recommendations made by Professor Michael Waterson last year with regard to tackling the various issues around the secondary ticketing market, ie the resale of tickets at hiked up prices on online ticket touting platforms like Seatwave, Get Me In, Stubhub and Viagogo... [READ MORE]|
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Government confirms bots ban and better enforcement in response to secondary ticketing review
As previously reported, Waterson was asked to review the UK secondary ticketing market in the wake on the 2015 Consumer Rights Act, which introduced some light regulation of the ticket resale sector. His resulting report said that some clarity was required regarding those new CRA regulations and the obligations of the resale sites in ensuring sellers complied with the law. He also said that a statutory body, probably National Trading Standards, needed to take on responsibility for enforcing the rules.
Waterson's report was published less than a month before the EU referendum which, of course, resulted in a new government being formed in the UK, which in turn delayed ministers providing a formal response to the professor's findings. Meanwhile, those in the music community who oppose rampant ticket touting formed the FanFair Alliance and stepped up their efforts to secure better regulation of the secondary market.
A lot of attention since then has been put on the use of so called bots by ticket touts, ie the software which enables them to buy up large quantities of tickets from the primary market as soon as they go on sale. When it was initially proposed that the in-development Digital Economy Bill be used to introduce a specific bots ban, the government initially was resistant, arguing that the use of such software was possibly already illegal under the Computer Misuse Act.
However, after a culture select committee session on secondary ticketing, in which reps of the secondary market did not perform well, a specific bots ban within the DEB was re-proposed, and the government is now formally supporting that. Touts who break the new law and continue to use such software to hoover up large numbers of tickets from primary sellers will face unlimited fines.
The government is also supporting other recommendations made by Waterson, in particular pledging investment to enable National Trading Standards to play a more proactive role in ensuring the CRA regulations are enforced.
Ministers will also put pressure on Viagogo, eBay's StubHub and Live Nation's Seatwave and Get Me In to do more to distinguish those reselling tickets on a commercial level from those who occasionally sell on a ticket here and there. Waterson pointed out that the former are already subject to extra consumer rights regulation, but the lack of transparency in the secondary ticketing market as to who is actually doing the selling makes it hard to enforce those extra rules on the industrial-level touts.
Confirming the government's position on the bots, culture minister Matt Hancock said this weekend: "It's unacceptable that touts are misusing technology to bypass security measures and buy up vast numbers of tickets before real fans get the chance, only to sell them on at rip-off prices. It's a growing problem that affects too many people". Meanwhile, on wider issues in the secondary market, he added: "Ticket sellers need to do more, by improving transparency and ensuring that they are acting in the best interests of consumers and help the market work for everyone".
Waterson also called for reform of the primary ticketing market, even though that wasn't technically part of his review's remit. The Society Of Ticket Agents And Retailers said yesterday that its membership of primary ticketing agents had already responded to those comments in Waterson's report, and therefore they welcomed the government's commitment to force the secondary ticketing sector to do likewise.
STAR boss Jonathan Brown said: "Over the last ten months, STAR has been very focused on progressing the recommendations made to the primary ticket market in Professor Waterson's excellent 2016 review of the secondary ticket market. STAR therefore very much welcomes the government's commitment to improving the secondary ticket market for consumers by accepting and acting on the recommendations made by Professor Waterson".
On the bots front, he added: "STAR has long advocated for legislation to specifically address the harvesting of tickets by automated software - 'ticket bots'. We are therefore pleased that the government will be dealing with this issue through the Digital Economy Bill. However, we also know we need far greater understanding and technical defences against bots across the primary market to prevent against such attacks".
Meanwhile, the aforementioned FanFair Alliance has welcomed the government's new commitments, while thanking Sharon Hodgson MP - a long-time campaigner for more regulation of secondary ticketing - and Nigel Adams MP, who has been particularly prolific in this domain in the last year, for their help in making it happen.
The campaigning group said: "[The] government's announcement will be music to the ears of UK audiences. It is also vindication for campaigners and performers, who have called for reform of this shadowy market for well over a decade. For too long now, the practices of the secondary ticketing platforms have enabled online touts to thrive and generate huge profits at the expense of fans".
It went on: "A crackdown on the misuse of bot technology to bulk-buy tickets will be hugely important in helping clean up this market, but of equal significance is government's blanket acceptance of recommendations in the Waterson Review which, if implemented, should lead to greater transparency. That aspect is absolutely vital. Only with proper enforcement of the law will this market work in favour of consumers".
Kesha fan could be subpoenaed in ongoing Dr Luke dispute
Dr Luke, real name Lukasz Gottwald, and Kesha Sebert are still embroiled in a long-running multi-layered legal battle. Sebert accuses her long-time collaborator of abusing and raping her. He says those allegations are untrue, and were made up by the singer and her mother in a bid to get out of her contractual commitments to his companies. At one point litigation was filed in three separate states in relation to the dispute.
As the legal battle went through the motions last year, Gottwald generally enjoyed more success in court, but Sebert arguably won the PR battle. Following ultimately unsuccessful protests and petitions that called on Sony Music to cut Sebert free of her commitments to its Gottwald-led imprint Kemosabe Records, lawyers for the producer accused the singer of conducting a "co-ordinated campaign to mislead the public", while more recently they suggested that the #FreeKesha petitions were "bogus".
According to court papers released on Friday, Gottwald's lawyers now want to subpoena Michael Eisele, a fan who runs the KeshaToday Twitter account and who seemingly helped organise last year's protests. Gottwald's team accuse Sebert of colluding with Eisele to stage the protests and petitions that targeted Sony, and which - they say - were designed to further "spread Ms Sebert's defamatory statements and tarnish plaintiffs' reputation".
According to Billboard, Gottwald's legal team say that information held by Eisele "is material and necessary to the prosecution of this action" and therefore they want "the issuance of an open commission to enable [plaintiffs] to obtain documents and other tangible things from Mr Eisele and to take his deposition as a non-party witness in this action".
Sebert's lawyers are yet to respond to the latest filing by the other side in the dispute.
Canadian officials not impressed with US report that always criticises their copyright regime
As previously reported, the US Trade Representative publishes an annual 'notorious markets' report, which identifies websites that are particularly prolific copyright infringers, and also countries where rights owners reckon that local copyright laws do not go far enough in combating piracy.
Canada has often appeared on the latter list, partly because in the early days of file-sharing the country's copyright laws were not always especially helpful as the music and movie industries sought to tackle online piracy. However, various reforms of copyright law have since occurred there. Nevertheless, the US report still raises concerns about its neighbour's systems for protecting intellectual property.
A confidential memo published by University Of Ottawa professor Michael Geist last week shows that Canadian officials aren't too bothered by the notorious market listing, instead criticising the American government's methodology.
The internal government memo reads: "Canada does not recognise the validity of [this report] and considers the process and the report to be flawed. The report fails to employ a clear methodology and the findings tend to rely on industry allegations rather than empirical evidence and objective analysis".
Geist himself has been critical of the notorious markets report in the past, and therefore unsurprisingly backs the Canadian government's viewpoint. He told TorrentFreak: "I think the Canadian government is exactly right in its assessment of the [notorious markets] report process. It is little more than a lobbying document and the content largely reflects biased submissions from lobby groups".
Of course, while there may remain some issues with Canadian copyright law for those seeking to enforce their IP rights online, it is American law-makers who bailed on the idea of web-blocking as an approved anti-piracy tactic, while for songwriters it is US compulsory licences and the consent decrees that regulate collecting societies BMI and ASCAP that are causing most concern.
So maybe Canadian officials could publish their own notorious markets report and put the USA at the top of the list of problematic copyright regimes. And then build a big wall on the border.
Italian band Soviet Soviet deported from US en route to SXSW
The band had been travelling on the visa waiver programme ESTA, which allows citizens of nearly 40 countries to travel to the US for 90 days on business or leisure without requiring a visa. One of the stipulations of this programme, however, is that travellers must not earn money in the US during their stay.
The band were due to play SXSW, plus a number of other promotional performances, including a showcase at Seattle radio station KEXP. None of those events were paying the band, which is why they believed the ESTA paperwork was sufficient. Though when it comes to gigging Stateside it's rarely that simple, which is one of the reasons why SXSW included the recently criticised terms in its artist contracts making international acts aware of the risks of performing at events outside its core programme.
Explaining their ordeal on the American border, the band write: "We left Italy headed towards the US with all necessary documents, passports and various declarations in which we clearly explained the purpose of our tour, confirming it is was strictly promotional and that we were in no way going to earn money from it or receive any form of payment".
They go on: "We knew that if we were to receive any compensation we would have had to apply for work visas. This was not the case and the people we spoke to for information told us we would be fine. The point is that the control agents - who did a quick check on the concerts we informed them of - noticed that two of the venues were asking for entry fees and this was enough to convince them that we needed work visas instead of an ESTA".
It took four hours to reach the decision to deport the three members of the band, they say. "We accepted this decision as it seemed final at that point. They took our digital fingerprints and took mugshots of us for their file. They confiscated our cell phones and we were denied the possibility of contacting our families and loved ones. Around 10:30pm, two prison officers frisked us, handcuffed us and brought us to jail in a police car. We spent the night in jail and had been escorted there as though we were three criminals".
Commenting on the situation, and the temporary jailing of the band, The Department of Homeland Security told NPR: "When a traveller is deemed inadmissible, [Customs And Border Protection] makes every effort to return the traveller without delay. CBP does not have an overnight detention facility at the airport. Therefore, it is standard procedure for any traveller who is deemed inadmissible and is awaiting return travel to be taken to a detention centre until return travel is available".
It continued: "According to CBP policy, it is standard procedure to restrain a traveller who is being transported to a detention facility. The use of restraints on detainees during transport is in a manner that is safe, secure, humane, and professional. It is the responsibility of officers to ensure that the need and level of restraints used is consistent with the operational office's policies and procedures. At no time are restraints used in a punitive manner or in a manner that causes detainees undue pain".
Some have suggested that increased immigration controls under the Donald Trump administration are causing these problems - and concerns over the Trump government's position on immigration certainly contributed to SXSW's long-held contract terms being criticised this year - though what happened to Soviet Soviet isn't entirely unusual.
Each year, a number of bands find themselves unable to enter the US under similar circumstances. And, commenting on the band's statement, lawyer Matthew Covey of Tamizdat, which works with international musicians entering the US to perform, said on Facebook that the band were at fault.
"Soviet Soviet was doing precisely what the much maligned SXSW invitation letter was attempting to caution them against doing", he wrote. "As monstrous as reports of CBP's handling of Soviet Soviet sound, it is clear that these artists were entering the US intending to violate US law. They were scheduled to play non-showcase events, and even after all last week's fuss, they still did not understand: not getting paid does not mean you don't need a visa".
However, he noted that the situation does highlight that there is a problem with the current system, adding: "What happened to Soviet Soviet happens to some performer every week of every month and has been happening for 25 years. So something is not working and needs to change".
Writing on classical music website Hello Stage last week, Brian Taylor Goldstein of GG Arts Law also wrote about issues for artists travelling to the US on non-work visas. He noted that, while the visa rules haven't changed, more detailed scrutiny of documents by border officials in the wake of Trump's increased controls on immigration did mean that more artists were being caught out.
"We are already receiving reports of artists being held and detained for hours upon entering the US to determine whether or not they are performing", he wrote, days before Soviet Soviet set off for the US. "Even artists entering as visitors for the purpose of attending a conference or 'performing a showcase' are being pulled aside and, in many cases, being refused entry. Artists entering with B-1/B-2 visas or through the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) are being pulled aside the moment they say that they are 'entertainers', 'performers', or 'artists'".
He continued: "Everyone needs to understand and accept that artists cannot perform on visitor visas (B-1/B-2) or through the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) regardless of whether or not they are being paid and regarding of whether or not tickets are sold. Except in the most narrowly defined circumstances, US immigration law has always defined 'work' as it pertains to artists, as any kind of performance. Artists denied entry on the basis of fraud, will have a denied entry on their record, impeding future visas and travel".
X-Factor could be condensed into shorter series in bid to win back viewers
The once all-powerful talent show has been struggling to pull in the super big audiences in recent years, with last year's final the least watched in its history. Seven million tuned in to see Marmaduke Colander win (oh yeah, like you know for sure that's not who won) - 1.4 million fewer than the previous year.
Seemingly, the recently employed strategy of keeping the format the same but trying to make things nastier did not pay off. Now, apparently, bosses reckon the whole thing might just be too long winded. Some amazing detective work there, guys. Take the rest of the day off.
An unnamed source told The Daily Record: "The 'X-Factor' executives feel it needs a shake-up with big changes to the format. They have been discussing having just a few weeks of live shows - so people get to know the singers - and then one big finals week. They think viewers would prefer one week of great TV, with star performers".
This would bring 'X-Factor' in line with its more successful sister show 'Britain's Got Talent', and would suit the judges better - Sharon Osbourne having wracked up an estimated 100,000 air miles last year by traveling back and forth between LA and London each week for the show. When we're all drowning under the rising sea, let's just remember how worthwhile that was.
Anyway, a spokesperson for the show said in a statement that "no decision has been made about the new series". So it could as yet be transformed into a two year long, 24 hours a day programme filmed in a fleet of private jets.
Ed Sheeran released an album and now the charts are broken
The album is the fastest selling album by a male artist of all time in the UK (and the third fastest selling overall, after Adele's '25' and Oasis' 'Be Here Now'), closing out its first seven days on sale already double platinum, having sold 672,000 copies. That put the album comfortably in the number one position in the week-ending chart, while his previous two LPs, 'x' and '+' are at numbers four and five in the album chart respectively.
Over in the singles chart, Sheeran makes a mockery of the whole system by having all sixteen tracks on the album in the top 20. Nine of them appear in the top ten, while Sheeran has the top five in its entirety. Which I think makes a good case for the way streaming numbers are counted in the chart being entirely wrong.
Even Ed himself agrees. "I don't know if there's some weird thing that Spotify and Apple Music are going to have to change now with streaming", he said on Radio 1's Official Chart Show. "I never expected to have nine songs in the top ten ever in my life. I don't know if something has gone wrong, but I'm definitely very happy about it".
OK, maybe I jumped the gun a little saying he agreed with the need for radical chart reform, but he's at least a little confused. Not like Atlantic UK President Ben Cook, who is certain of the justifiable wonder and achievement of all of this.
"Ed is truly one of a kind and '÷' is an incredible musical statement that only he could make; it's passionate and contemporary, whilst being distinct and timeless", says Cook. "In the six years since we signed him nothing with Ed has been accidental - he's constantly raised the bar, challenging us to match his drive and musical output at every step: '÷' is no different".
"It's his best record to date, and together we've innovated to create this historic, cultural moment", the Atlantic man continues. "Ed has proven himself to be a rare modern day artist whose career continues to grow stratospherically and his music will resonate across generations for years to come. What a lad!"
Yeah, total lad. And it's not just our charts he knackered. Over in Australia, Sheeran also has all sixteen tracks from the album in the top 40 of the ARIA Singles Chart. Only five of them in the top ten though. He does have three spots in the Aussie albums top five though - the other two taken up by Adele.
Anyway, if you like simpler, good old-fashioned counting, without complicated equations to try to make one thing like another, I have some good news for you. '÷' is also the fastest selling vinyl album for 20 years. Of the 419,000 physical copies of the album he sold, 13,500 were on vinyl. That's a little over 3% of physical sales, or 2% of total sales. Yay, vinyl revival!
Oh, and Ed Sheeran sold a shitload of CDs last week too, so that's also a thing.
Matthew Herbert announces Brexit Big Band project
The aim is to begin with one sound and work until over 1000 people have contributed to the project, offering up numerous sounds and vocals sung in different languages.
As a starting point, potential contributions are already being collected through a project called Brexit Sound Swap. The website allows users to record and upload a three second sound, which then unlocks a collection of other sounds created by others. It's described as "a sonic petition, each sound uploaded a mark of agreement that music is an idea in a dialogue with a stranger".
"In an increasingly fractured and divided political climate where tolerance and creativity are under threat, it feels like an important time to assert the desire for our bit of the musical community in Britain to reach out in solidarity with some of our closest, but soon to be less accessible, friends and neighbours", says Herbert. "I simply wouldn't be the musician or person I am were it not for the countless collaborators and interactions with people from very different backgrounds, and nationalities to my own. I have learned so much, from so many disparate and often overlooked voices".
"The message from parts of the Brexit campaign were that as a nation we are better off alone", he continues. "I refute that idea entirely and wanted to create a project that embodies the idea of collaboration from start to finish".
Little Dragon announce new album, Season High
"We have grown through the years but the making of this album has been a struggle", says vocalist Yukimi Nagano of the record. "As much as our band is based on a deep friendship, we are four strong wills who find it really frustrating to compromise. We have gotten better at that though, but it's still a real battle. It gets harder and harder for us to make records but we still love it".
She continues: "Sometimes it feels like we have 100% passion and life or death emotions yet there's a pointlessness with everything. We want to exist in our own bubble where we can stay curious about sounds. The magic feeling that sounds can sprinkle over any boring day is what got us all hooked, that feeling of escapism. Maybe because Gothenburg is a grey place for most of the year, our curse and blessing is that we never quite succeed".
Vevo, Frank Ocean, Drake, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• Vevo has announced that it's going to move its European HQ to the grade II listed Lighthouse building in London's Kings Cross. "A new office building", says Vevo's Europe MD Jon Gisby.
• Having fairly recently released two new albums, Frank Ocean has released a brand new single, 'Chanel'. Slow down a bit, mate.
• Drake's 'More Life' thing will be out this Friday.
• The UK Eurovision entry now has a video.
• The Weeknd has released the video for 'I Feel It Coming', featuring Daft Punk.
• Ionna Lee - formerly known as iamamiwhoami - has released a new single, 'Samaritan'.
• Sløtface have released a video for the title track of their 'Empire Records' EP.
• Jain will headline Village Underground on 20 Jun. Don't forget.
Adele transported around in "sweaty" box before live shows
The stage set up on the singer's current tour means that the only route to her starting position is through the audience. Strolling through and jumping up on stage is apparently not considered a good way to begin. So instead, she spends several minutes locked in a hot flight case with only an iPad for company. Because that is obviously better.
She has said during these shows that her transportation to the stage each night makes her "so sweaty", but added that she can't divulge the secret of how she gets there until the end of the tour. Because of the fans passing out and shitting thing.
Though it's probably not that hard to guess how it's done. I mean, no fireball hits the stage shortly before the performance, and research shows that teleportation does not significantly raise core temperature in the human body.
Still, someone's gone and blabbed to The Sun about the whole box on a trolley thing, ruining the mystery. "Adele sits in the box for several minutes as she is taken from her dressing room right to the centre of the crowd", says the unnamed source. "Most of her fans are already seated and just presume it's a piece of kit they are moving but some have been told by staff at venues that actually it's their idol and a woman worth £85 million sitting in a pretty small box a few feet from them".
Just to reiterate, they mean it's Adele in there. Adele is the idol of Adele fans see, and Adele is also dead wealthy. Because if you're a tabloid source and you're trying to refer to Adele, obviously you're going to do so by identifying her wealth.
"A few [fans] have worked it out as her personal security Peter Van Der Deer - who is never away from her side - accompanies the box during its journey", they continue. "Then her team flank it as it reaches the stage and shield her from view as she climbs out and goes to wait underneath the stage for the start. Fans have been told she has an iPad in there to keep her entertained but it is a very sweaty and unglamorous part of the show for Adele to get through but she's down to earth and jokes about it".
Anyway, Adele still has a few tour dates to go in Australia and New Zealand, so this revelation has spoiled it all for them, hasn't it? Maybe they could now stuff her in a rucksack to try to throw people off the scent. Presumably for the big finale shows at Wembley Stadium in June and July she'll just parachute in every night. Or maybe she could move in below the stage and pop up to perform just after tea.